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Carolyn Jane Chambers was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but grew up in Orlando, Florida, where she started writing with scripts for local public radio stations. She studied at Rollins College, intending to become a playwright, but dropped out of Rollins after encountered discrimination as a woman there. After studying acting for a season at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1956, she moved to New York City and then on to Poland Spring, Maine, where she worked for WMTW. Returning to New York in 1968, she enrolled at Goddard College, Vermont to try again for an undergraduate degree. There she met Beth Allen, who would remain her lover, companion and manager.
Completing her degree in 1971, Chambers began to achieve recognition as a writer: she won the Rosenthal Award for Poetry, and her play Christ in a Treehouse, won a Connecticut Educational Television Award. In 1972 she received a Eugene O'Neill Fellowship for Tales of the Revolution and Other American Fables, staged at the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theater. She helped establish theater at the Women's Interart Center in New York, putting on her play Random Violence there in 1972. Her writing for the soap opera Search for Tomorrow won her a Writers Guild of America Award in 1973. A Late Snow, produced at Playwrights Horizons in 1974 was one of the earliest plays to portray lesbian characters in a positive light. In 1980 Chambers started to work with The Glines, writing Last Summer at Bluefish Cove for their First Gay American Arts Festival, about the impact upon a woman and her lesbian friends after she is diagnosed with cancer. Ironically, Chambers was herself diagnosed with cancer in 1981. She continued to write, producing My Blue Heaven for the Second Gay American Arts Festival at the Glines, and The Quintessential Image for the Women's Theatre Conference in Minneapolis.
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